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How do I prepare for the child custody process?

It is helpful to be as prepared as possible for a child custody hearing or other family-law related court appearance. You may have one coming up and wonder how you can best prepare for it. Knowing what to expect, and being as prepared as possible, can help parents approaching a child custody hearing or other family law-related concern.

First, it is important to be familiar with the child custody laws in your state to better understand how they will apply to your situation and circumstances. It is important to understand the standards the court uses to evaluate requests made by parents, such as a request for sole custody.

Next, it is important to know what documentation to bring to a child custody hearing and to prepare those documents in advance. Additionally, it may not seem overly significant but it is important to understand courtroom etiquette and be prepared in advance for what to expect from the courtroom setting. It is also helpful to dress properly for the setting.

Similarly, it is important to understand that child custody hearings are commonly not as combative and some other types of hearings and to understand that the judge will be evaluating the requests and concerns of the parents. Parents should be familiar with how to plan for court, how to attend court and how their understandable concerns will be addressed in the courtroom setting.

It is always the case that understanding the family law process in advance can be helpful to achieve the desired outcome but it can also help quell anxieties or concerns parents may have beforehand. In child custody situations, the best interests of the child are paramount and the better prepared the parents are for what to expect from the process, the more likely that focus can be achieved.

Source: Singleparents.about.com, "Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing," Debrina Washington, April 29, 2016

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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